Tour of Duty

The phrase heart of a pastor has lost much of its currency. You rarely find warmth and compassion and loyalty in seminar titles at pastor conferences; these days, leadership skills are in great demand.

But the phrase doesn't intimidate Stu Weber, pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church, located on the eastern perimeter of Portland, Oregon. Then again, Weber is probably secure in his leadership ability. He was co-captain of his college football team, and an Army Airborne Ranger and Green Beret officer in Vietnam. He has the size of an NFL middle linebacker, the aplomb of Colin Powell, and the oversized heart of, well, a pastor.

After Wheaton College, Weber set off for the Vietnam War, from which almost 60,000 U.S. troops did not return. Vietnam forced the 24-year-old to stare into the abyss. While parachuting in Vietnam, he jumped out of a plane and landed on the canopy of his partner's parachute. Plunging earthward, he struggled to push himself clear but couldn't; his chute wouldn't open ...

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